Games for Lunch: Auditorium
Developers: Dain Saint and William Stallwood
Publisher: Cipher Prime
Release Date: Feb. 4, 2009
ESRB Rating: N/A
Official Web Site
0:00 I played the demo version of this for literally 30 seconds before being distracted by something shiny. Since then, it seems EVERYBODY has been talking about it and saying how great/amazing/beautiful it is. Now that the final version is out, I decided to take everybody's advice and pay for the full version. OK everybody, you'd better be right!
0:01 I do like the gentle piano music that plays along with the animated logo. Very synchronous. I don't like the jerky animation on the various icons in the intro cut scene, though. Maybe I need to turn down the Flash quality? Ah, that's better.
0:02 Just like that, we're in fullscreen mode and "HAJIMEMASHITE 1:1" is starting. A gentle rain of white particles falls down the left part of the screen. In the center, a clear ball with a right-pointing arrow on it. On the right, a few horizontal bars, like a gain meter on a stereo. I move the circle into the stream of white, bending it towards the gain meter and playing some gentle, repetitive piano music in the process. The meter fills up and the level is done. I like the way the particles don't all bend in exactly the same way ... there's an organic margin of error in there.
0:04 Level 1:2 has the white rain flowing leftward and an up-arrow circle that can be used to hit the nearby meter. Super-easy so far.
0:05 Level 1:3 is a little more involved, with two circles and two boxes. The second box adds a sonorous bass to the now-familiar piano. Very nice.
0:06 Level 1:4 adds a third box with beautiful violins. The music is incredibly soothing ... I can feel the stress melting away.!
0:08 Level 1:6 is the first one to give me a slight challenge. There are four boxes but only three circles with which to redirect the flow of particles. I guess and check a bit and finally stumble on a set of angles where one portion of the stream flows into two boxes. "ACT 1 COMPLETE," says a small message in the bottom corner as six boxes play a congratulatory tune for me. Man, I hope the difficulty picks up a bit.
0:09 "AMETHYST 2:1" is next. This time the white rain has to change color in a pink starburst area before flowing into a purple box. The music is different, but still just as gentle and soothing.
0:10 In Level 2:2, the white particles have to hit a white box, then change to purple to hit a purple box. In Level 2:3 the rain starts purple and has to be changed to yellow for just one of three boxes. I have to place the ball extremely carefully to split the stream in two. I love the fuzzy soft focus once a level is complete ... lets you enjoy the music and the artistry of the final stream design.
0:13 Level 2:4 is by far the toughest level yet. There are four boxes of purple, yellow and white, and only three circles, none of which seems to point in the direction I want. I can easily direct the stream to fill three of the boxes, but the fourth remains stubbornly out of reach. Hmm...
0:19 Aha ... I just figured out that you can make the circles bigger or smaller by dragging their edges. Not only does this increase the range of their skewing effect, but also the power of it. I have a feeling this may be the key to this level.
0:20 Got it! I had to split the purple stream so half of it was yellow, then use a big circle to sort of bend it upwards to hit both a white and a purple box at once. My clunky text descriptions really don't do it justice, I'm sure.
0:23 Level 2:5 has two yellow blocks that seem almost mutually exclusive -- if I hit one, the other is unhittable. The stream starts out very fast here, and requires a BIG circle to divert it. I'm glad the difficulty has picked up quickly.
0:28 I've got a crazy sort of stair-step zigzag pattern going between two very large left and right circles at the end here. The slow remnants of the particle stream aren't quite making it to the last box. I have no idea if I'm even on the right track here...
0:29 I finally get it down by repositioning the stair-step circles slightly, so it doesn't re-split the stream near the end. I'm pretty sure my solution isn't the most elegant, but hey, if it works, it works! "ACT 2 COMPLETE." The music from the stage plays via five solid streams into five boxes. I can isolate the parts by hovering over them. The music design is superb.
0:30 "ACT 3: SOLACE" introduces a new piece that spirals the particle stream around it in a crazy kind of cyclone. This means it can pick up a color and then loop it back around in the totally opposite direction.
0:32 Level 3:2 ends up requiring a very large twister and then a small leftward to push towards a blue box. The resulting loop of particles combines with the music to make a beautiful work of art.
0:33 The game is eerily quiet before you direct the stream into its first box. Kind of lonesome, actually.
0:36 The two spiral circles in Level 3:3 end up making a colorful, flowing figure-8 that I can't stop staring at. Simply beautiful.
0:41 Level 3:4 ends up as an absolute mess of overlapping circles and bending lines undulating throughout. Once the circles are taken away, though, the zigzagging flow is simply stunning. I don't have the words. They should have sent a poet.
0:47 In 3:5 it's quite easy to get a spiral that hits the first three boxes. It's much harder to peel off part of that spiraling shape and direct it towards the blue starburst and the two blue boxes. I think I'm on the wrong track, but some deft circle placement gets it over the hump. "ACT 3 COMPLETE"
0:48 "ACT 4: ATLANTIC" introduces a stationary splitter that divides a beam in two like a magnet. I like the fast-paced piano here. All of the music so far has just been wondrous.
0:51 Level 4:2 involves pushing a blue stream back against itself and into the splitter again, while using the same circle to bend a purple stream into its box. It seems complex, but the controls make it easy to experiment until you stumble on the solution.
0:56 I have no problem splitting the stream to hit one blue box and spiraling it into two purples in Level 4:3. But then there's one pesky blue block on the bottom right that isn't even close to getting hit. Screw you, box! Why do you think you deserve this stream, huh?
1:00 Looks like my hour's gonna end with me stuck on Level 4:3.
Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes.
Why? It fills my heart with joy.
This column is based on an in-browser version of the game available at the official Web site.
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